What Causes Sinus Pressure and Pain?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2018
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There are many causes of sinus pressure and pain. In most cases, allergies and sinus infections are the primary causes. Yet there are differences between individuals that might intensify the level of discomfort that one might feel. Experiencing prolonged or extreme sinus pressure and pain is a signal to see one's physician. A variety of home remedies exist to treat milder symptoms.

Allergies and sinus infections are the two most common causes of sinus pressure and pain. Allergens such as dust or pollen prompt the release of histamine in the human body. Histamine causes inflammation of the sinus and the buildup of mucus. A sinus infection also causes inflammation in addition to headaches. Allergies and sinus infections are both classified as types of sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses that lasts between ten days and many months.

Allergies and sinus infections may be the primary causes of sinus pressure and pain, but the level of discomfort one suffers from these conditions depends on one's own biology. For example, roughly 10% of the population has an extra sinus. Though the sinus itself is not harmful, its existence makes a person more susceptible to sinus infections. Narrow sinuses also make it much easier for mucus to become clogged. A person with narrow sinuses not only feels discomfort for longer, but has more difficulty clearing his or her sinuses.


A deviated nasal septum can also prolong sinus pressure and pain. The two sinus chambers in the nasal cavity are generally of equal size. Yet through a genetic deformity or physical trauma to the nose, one chamber is larger than the other. Besides causing sinus issues, a deviated nasal septum can also impede nighttime breathing and cause snoring.

Extreme and/or prolonged sinus pressure and pain are clear signs that one should see his or her physician. If a physician is presented with a patient who has experienced sinus pain for more than seven days, he or she will prescribe a short course of antibiotics, usually amoxicillin. Some physicians have also found that antibiotics in conjunction with intranasal cortiosteroids have a higher chance of successfully relieving symptoms.

Many home remedies exist to relieve milder sinus pressure and pain. Providing moisture during the dry winter months is essential. For example, breathing through a moist, damp washcloth loosens mucus and clears nasal passages. Using a humidifier to moisten the surrounding air provides more sustained relief. In conjunction with these tips, using an over-the-counter nasal spray should greatly relieve one's symptoms.



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